The Litmus Test Of Freedom

I mentioned it last week, and now Taking Liberties has a piece – The war on smoking is a war on individual freedom – on the liberation of Manbij, quoting from an article by Juliet Samuel in the Telegraph:

The women are smoking cigarettes … Newly liberated from the rule of Isil, they’re expressing the most basic freedom a human can possess: control over their own bodies. These are the freedoms the West holds dear.

If only that were true. The West may not kill or torture people for smoking (not yet, anyway!) but the suggestion it’s a freedom “the West holds dear” is no longer true, sadly.

I’m not suggesting governments should actively encourage habits that are potentially harmful but if it’s legal the state’s role in a free society is to educate then allow people to make our own informed choices without being punished for making choices the state doesn’t approve of.

Instead, led by America, Australia, Canada, the UK and Ireland (spot the connection?), governments and local authorities in the West have spent the past two decades banning or severely restricting smoking in a variety of public places.

Smoking in enclosed public places is now prohibited in several Western countries and there is a growing move towards outdoor smoking bans.

Smokers have been taxed to the hilt, far in excess of what it allegedly costs the state to treat smoking-related diseases.

In some countries the product has been hidden behind shutters and sliding doors while packs and pouches are emblazoned with gory health warnings designed to shock and repulse.

Simultaneously the public has been encouraged to regard smoking as a dirty or disgusting habit (“If you smoke, you stink” according to one publicly-funded campaign).

Does that sound like a freedom “the West holds dear”?

Well, exactly. This is one freedom that the West doesn’t hold dear. And it really means that the West no longer really holds any freedom dear. For once one freedom has gone, the rest will soon follow.

And if “inclusiveness” is another value that “the West holds dear”, the treatment of smokers goes to show how empty that claim also is.

Equally “tolerance.”

All empty words.

For me defending smoking (and smokers) is the litmus test of a genuinely liberal mind. It scores points on so many levels I hardly know where to start.

The most important perhaps is that genuine liberals are prepared to defend activities they themselves don’t engage in and may even disapprove of.

Defending smoking means challenging the current orthodoxy that the world would be a better place without it.

It’s the only litmus test I use these days. The first thing I want to know about anyone is whether they’re antismoking or not. And if they are antismoking, I know everything I need to know about them.

So I’ll ask this. Who do you identify with – the women in Manjib, Syria, celebrating the freedom to smoke, or public health campaigners who want to deny you that freedom in the name of … what, exactly?

I don’t doubt that some people are addicted to smoking and want to quit. I’m equally convinced however that as an expression of individual freedom smoking is hard to beat.

I also think the world would be a poorer, less diverse place without smoking but, hey, I’m just a tobacco industry stooge with no mind of my own.

I also think that the world would be (is?) a poorer place without smoking, in much the same way it would be a poorer place without the scent of perfume, the rich aroma of coffee, the smell of newly baked bread, and twenty thousand other aromas that, at the drop of a hat, someone somewhere will declare to be a “stink”.

About Frank Davis

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4 Responses to The Litmus Test Of Freedom

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    A stink then out of nowhere a health risk!

    Imagine cooking bread releasing 100 carcinogens and 5600 chemicals!

    Egads the insanity and stupidity of people today.

    Where did all the half ass smart people go!

    Is it just normal to produce brain dead bots anymore!

  2. Smoking Lamp says:

    The world is a poorer place due to smoking bans. The countless hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, patios, beaches, parks and public squares where one could enjoy a smoke and conversation are becoming rare. All because of lies and propaganda forced upon multiple societies. Freedom is threatened worldwide at the hands of neb-puritan social controllers.

  3. Ana says:

    Refreshing! Arnold is the real man!
    Once complete, Arnold, 69, lights up a cigar as he declares: ‘Let’s get down to business.’

    Read more:

  4. dreama2016 says:

    I remember when you could even smoke in the waiting room of the doctor. People just seemed happier back in those days. People waved at each other while passing in cars. Men and women would hold the door open for someone coming in . Just a whole different world to what we see today. No one was coughing because you were smoking, everyone almost did smoke at that time. I went shopping while smoking. Now, some people seem down right rude, and willing to take away others freedoms. They go around being extremely mad. Just looking for someone to complain about . I sure miss the days of true America freedom days. I don’t feel free any more. I feel locked away like a criminal because I enjoy smoking . Just sad how it has all become now.

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